The days of bland text driven websites is over. Websites are now expected to be a multimedia experience, and if you blog and do not use featured images for your posts; you are making a mistake that could potentially hurt your rank. Now, I know this sounds like common sense, but the presence of a picture on your site isn’t the sole solution here.
Let’s talk about the importance of unique content. There was a time when you could post other sites content (also known as auto-blogging or … stealing)(on a side note, I am not knocking curation blogs, there is still some really effective ways of using curation but that is the topic for another article), and your site would be jam packed with tons of content very quickly and effortlessly. At one time this was pretty effective for boosting the rank of your site. Just like how teachers and professors have applications to see how much of the Wikipedia article you stole, search engines can also determine how unique and original your site content is.
What you might not know is that, search engines analyze these images too. What that means is google has the ability to “look” at your image and determine how unique it is. Most bloggers just run a quick search on google images and save one of the first ones that come up to use as their featured images..
DON’T DO THAT.
Have you ever used tineye? For those of you that haven’t you can upload an image from your computer, and it will find all the sites out there that also have that same image posted. Think of how that looks to a search engine, it appears to them that you are just jumping on the bandwagon producing the same rehashed content as these other 500 websites. Some bloggers will take an extra step and crop the image so that at least the dimensions are different and maybe that will make the image appear unique or maybe renaming it will throw them off… Think again.. Check out Light Shot[ http://app.prntscr.com/ ] you can highlight just a small portion of an image and it will still be able to identify it and come back with all the sites that are using it.
You might be saying, well that’s all well and good Kevin, but I am not a photoshop wiz and I don’t have time to crank out my own self drawn cat picture for every single post I make. Well here is a trick that will take you 3 minutes that will show google that you are producing your own unique images and content.
- As you normally would use whatever image search you’d like, and find the perfect plagiarized image (provided you can legally use it).
- Make it full screen on your laptop or monitor
- Take a cell phone picture of your screen, you can get as artsy as you want with this, just so long you can still tell what the image is.
- Fire up instragram, and toss your favorite hipster-esque filter on top of the photo.
- Post the image to your instagram feed, remember to include the URL back to the article using that image.
- Save that image from instagram, and use it as your featured image
There you have it, a short 6-step process, to turn your originally bland pirated image, into a unique & cool looking picture. Not only that, you are getting a backlink and social traffic to your blog post.
You will be surprised how much extra credibility this earns you, because now you are producing new image content, instead of rehashing the same old pic that everyone else uses for that subject matter. Visitors want to look at sites that are ascetically pleasing, and that have attention grabbing images. Spend a few extra minutes on your graphics and you will see the reward.